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Ask the Experts
As we gain weight, either through puberty, pregnancy or lifestyle choices our skin stretches to accommodate our new shape. Rapid weight gain can cause the skin to develop stretch marks, and equally, if you lose weight too quickly, it can leave you with loose skin. If you’re extremely lucky your skin will snap back as it once was, but if you’re part of the 99% who doesn’t have phenomenal skin elasticity you may be left with loose skin on your tummy, as well as other areas including thighs and arms.
Feeling self-conscious about your figure can make it really difficult to be confident in yourself and can even stop you wearing outfits you’d love to look good in. Having a firm, flat stomach can make a huge difference to the way you feel and when it’s not possible to achieve this through diet and exercise alone, Tummy Tuck surgery can be the right option.
What is a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck, also known as Abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen. The tummy tuck is also effective for repairing stretched and weakened abdominal muscles. This procedure helps our patients have a more attractive profile and enjoy a smooth, flat stomach.
Loose skin is often the result of aging, genetics, a previous surgery, fluctuations in weight or pregnancy. In fact, a tummy tuck is a common procedure included in a mommy makeover. Mommy makeovers are cosmetic procedures designed to help mothers obtain their pre-baby body. A tummy tuck may even help in the removal of stretch-marked skin.
A tummy tuck is a great procedure for healthy individuals if dieting and exercise are just not helping. An abdominoplasty often requires an incision from hip to hip just above the pubic hairline. Through this incision, the surgeon will be able to access your abdominal wall and remove unnecessary skin and tissue. The result will be a slimmer, more smooth appearance.
There are basically five main types of abdominoplasty in terms of the way the anatomical areas are addressed and re-contoured. Each type of abdominoplasty can be performed using different technical variations as per our surgeons preferences. Liposuction, when indicated, can be performed simultaneously with any of the below procedures for even greater results.
The five types of abdominoplasty are:
- Standard Abdominoplasty with umbilical re-positioning
- Standard Abdominoplasty with a “floated umbilicus”
- Mini Abdominoplasty
- Extended Abdominoplasty
- Circumferential Abdominoplasty
The details of your surgery will be planned out during your consultation and may differ from the summary below.
An abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthesia and may take a few hours. Liposuction is often used alongside a tummy tuck to remove excess fat deposits and improve the end results.
Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the surgeon will apply an incision along the lower abdomen. Through this incision, excess saggy skin will be excised. The muscles of the abdominal wall will be repaired and tightened. Once the midsection has been artfully sculpted, the incision will be closed and bandaged. You will be taken to a recovery room where you will be monitored until you are awake.
Abdominoplasty isn’t suitable for you if you:
- are a heavy smoker
- are overweight
- have had blood clots in the past
Many people want this surgery because being overweight or multiple pregnancies have stretched their abdominal skin or muscles. Make sure you have lost as much weight as possible and are not planning any more pregnancies before you go ahead. Otherwise, the benefits of the surgery will be much reduced, and you will have all the risks of the procedure without the longer-term benefits.
If you’re not sure whether the operation is suitable for you, it’s worth speaking to our online consultants. They won’t recommend surgery if it isn’t right for you.
When you first get home, the most important thing is not to overdo any activity. Follow the advice of your surgeon.
At first, gentle walking is the best exercise. Take things slowly and build up gradually. But, if you are doing any exercise that pulls on the scar and feels like its stretching, then you should take it a little slower.
Don’t take part in sports for 6 to 12 weeks after your operation – ask us for advice. It’s also really important not to do sit-up type exercises for at least 6 weeks and then take it slowly. Again, if you feel any type of strain, don’t do it. Take advice from us as different surgeons will have different procedures, which may vary depending on your type of procedure.
Once you have the go-ahead from your surgeon, there are exercises that can strengthen your abdominal muscles. The general advice is to do each exercise five times, three times a day, but do contact us first.
Lie on your back, with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Keeping your knees bent, slowly lower your knees to one side, but only as far as is comfortable. Bring them back to the centre and repeat on the other side.
Lie on your back, with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands in the small of your back. Push down so that your back is flat against your hands, tilting your hips up.
Tightening your abdomen
Lie on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands on your lower abdomen or hips. Breathe in, and as you breathe out, pull your tummy button down towards the floor. Hold for a count of three, then relax.
After abdominoplasty, it’s important not to do too much too soon. Too much activity too soon can put strain on the wound and cause a stretched scar. It can also slow down healing and increase swelling around your wound. The key is to pace yourself.
It usually takes about 6 weeks to recover, but this varies between individuals and the technique used, so it’s important to follow the surgeon’s advice. You’re likely to need about 4 weeks off work.
When you get home, you may be advised to rest in bed for another day or two, but you should get up to use the toilet. It will help your recovery if you’re up and about as soon as it’s not too painful.
Avoid movements that strain your tummy muscles – roll onto your side to get out of bed.
Don’t do too much too soon. Start with gently walking around at home. You can go up and down stairs if it’s not painful. Then start doing housework that is comfortable, such as making drinks or light meals. Once you’re comfortable around the house, gradually build up to longer walks of 5 to 10 minutes.
You’ll need to avoid vigorous activity (including sports) or heavy lifting (including shopping) for up to 12 weeks. Your abdominal muscles protect your back when you lift, so you need to take care until they are healed. Don’t have sex for 3 weeks after surgery or drive for 6 weeks. We will give you specific instructions, depending on the type of operation you have.
If you would like some exercises to help you recover, talk to us before you leave the hospital. Do remember that every operation and patient is different, so please don’t exercise before checking with us.
If you need to, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always read the leaflet that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, contact us for advice.
Your surgeon may ask you to wear a support garment (a type of corset) for up to 6 weeks after surgery. This helps to ease pain and discomfort and reduce swelling.